Golden Apple: Lunch Buddies Provides Easy Intro To Mentoring
Mentoring is such a simple concept, but it can have a huge impact on a child’s life. That is the goal of Kinship Partners’ Lunch Buddies.
“Lunch Buddies is when someone in our community comes in to the school over the lunch hour and has lunch with a child,” said Karen Downing, Kinship Partners Program Coordinator.
In addition to eating lunch with their mentor, the lunch buddies also make a craft every session. This week they made reindeer ornaments, just in time for Christmas.
The Lunch Buddies program takes place twice a month and allows community members to be introduced to mentoring.
“For the children, they feel very special, and so to have someone show up and it is the same mentor that shows up every two weeks per month. After a couple times already the kids are overflowing with things to talk to their mentor about and it’s actually a really big support system,” added Downing.
“I just like visiting with the children on kind of a small-group basis and meeting lots of different kids,” said Lunch Buddies mentor Cheryl Bailey.
Many of the mentors work for area businesses that sponsor them to be able to take an hour out of their day to mentor.
“We have people who are working that get to take a break and then we also have other people in the community,” explained Downing. “We have some people who are retired. That’s kind of common.”
The program has had a huge impact on the students, as well as the mentors.
“There’s a benefit for the mentors as well as the kids. For the mentors, their benefit really is to come in and have an impact on their community in a very real way,” added Downing.
“I think they just like having another adult around to hang out with and to talk to that’s not trying to teach them anything,” said Bailey. “We just can enjoy our times together.”
Research indicates that successful children can identify one adult in their life that has made a difference.
“Mentoring is very important. I think there are plenty of kids that don’t always find that person or that person doesn’t find them. So what we like to do at Kinship is intentionally find people who say, ‘well, sure, I’d like to do that,’ and then match them with a child and in just a very real way, a real living way, they have an impact on their lives,” Downing said.
In January, the Lunch Buddies program will have mentors in all four elementary schools in the Brainerd city limits. They hope to continue growing to Baxter and Nisswa elementaries in the future.